Monday, October 15, 2012

Faux Clay Tablet

This is a clay tablet that will be part of a Halloween party game. It was sculpted from homemade paper clay, my new favorite material. For something like this it's absolutely ideal. Cheap, easy to work, and tough enough to withstand handling by a horde of kids.

I added some pigment powder to give the plain white clay a light brown base color. The lettering was scribed with a stylus and then the whole piece was impressed with a stone from the driveway to give it some texture. I followed that up with a heat gun to force some surface cracking and then let the piece dry. The final finish treatment was a rubdown with wax-based schmutz to dirty it up.

The one thing about the final prop that surprised me was it's heft. I thought it might come out feeling far too light to pass as mineral clay, but if anything it's heavier than the real stuff.


CoastConFan said...

That's a very likeable piece and using paper clay is quick and easy for props. Impressing the back works well but it is always the schmutz that works every time.

Parlor games for kids are great. My favorite was to get them to play
”Amphora” a wonderful exciting game of exploration and archeology. You get them to lie down quietly and hold their arms like the handles of amphora. Then when they are all perfectly still you tell them to lie there for 2,000 years until they are discovered by an archeologist. The only one better is “Trilobite”, in that case they stay still for a 20 million years, but that is for extreme cases only.

Anonymous said...

How do you make your clay?

Propnomicon said...

@ CoastConFan

I'd be happy if I could get them to lie quietly until they're eighteen. Heh.

@ Anonymous

I use a variation of the recipe at:

I make two changes. The first is to replace a half cup of cornstarch with a half cup of well shredded toilet paper fiber. The second is replacing the canola oil with boiled linseed oil. The result is a very fine grained clay that has a slightly longer drying time, but an incredible amount of strength.